Carrot cake with orange mascarpone icing and candied pecans

It feels right to get blogging again with a classic and as far as I’m concerned, the carrot cake completes the holy trinity of cake baking grande dames – flanked either side by the Victoria sponge and the chocolate cake. I know that a classic shouldn’t really need messing about with but I have to insist on pecans over walnuts here. You get all the texture without any of the bitterness and, when candied and dipped in bronze, you also get an ostentatious flourish that no diva worth her salt would turn down.

Carrot cake with orange mascarpone icing and candied pecans

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Fig and hazelnut loaf

Baking bread is ridiculously satisfying. With a little bit of love and, let’s face it, not all that much care and attention, you can make something that simultaneously supplies comfort and nourishment, an innate sense of smugness and a not-to-be-underestimated arm workout. This loaf is my current favourite, packed full of sticky figs and toasted hazelnuts, it is moist and morish and absolutely wonderful with goat’s cheese. Feel free to dust liberally with flour a la artisans everywhere, this will only add to the sense of pride, trust me.

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Orange and pomegranate cake

Grey January days, the kind when the rain’s making a racket on the windows and the sky has been bleached of its blue, are the days that demand cake. Something simple yet vibrant, something reminiscent of the colours and tastes of the last couple of weeks – and here she is. This sweet, syrupy loaf cake is a riot of orange and pink, with a satisfying pop of sharpness thanks to the generous smattering of pomegranate seeds. Sliced thick and served with a pot of tea, it’s the perfect start to the year.

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